Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself and Your Child 

It can't be bought in a store, it doesn't come in various colors, and one size fits all. It is the key to mental health, learning and happiness. It is the armor that protects us from the dragons in life, and it is our largest task as parents. If you as a parent don't pass it on, your child has a high probability of failing in life. The gift is self-esteem.  

Self-esteem is defined as appreciating one's own worth and importance, and having the character to be accountable for one's self and act responsibly towards others. Self-esteem evolves through the quality of the relationships between children and those important in their lives. Children learn who they are from words, attitudes and nonverbal messages given to them. 

Low self-esteem comes from rejection, conditional love or no love, threats, lack of attention, emotional or physical neglect or abuse, perfectionism, and comparison to others. Also included are put-downs, name-calling, ridicule, humiliation, judgment, criticism, discouragement, disrespect, prejudice, resentment, needs not being met, stress, and focusing on externals (appearances, behavior, performance). When children experience this kind of treatment, they conclude that they are not important, good enough, or okay. That becomes their truth they carry with them throughout  life.

High self-esteem comes from attention, acceptance, respect, love, honesty, 
affectionate and appropriate touch, having their needs taken seriously, honoring 
their uniqueness, and having choices. Also needed is encouragement, support, appreciation, high and reasonable expectations, being listened to and understood, safety, a sense of personal power, a feeling of connectedness to others, being responsible, having a meaning in life, being healthy and fit, forgiveness, gratitude, and play. With a high sense of self-esteem, a child that is challenged by negative influences has more of a chance of overcoming and surviving. 

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